The bottom line is; there are a lot of film makers out there making films with no money, and it is becoming harder and harder to find funding as film making becomes more accessible to the masses. The best solution whilst you are establishing yourself is to find people to team up with. But what does collaborating really mean?
- Collaborating isn’t about what other people can bring to your project to make your dream film happen. Everyone has their dream film, and if people work on your dream film without inputting creatively then they are just working for you for free. What is in it for them? Some show-reel footage? You pay for their train ticket? True collaborations come about when you work together on something. So come up with an idea or write something together. Listen to each other. Everyone needs to get something out of it creatively. If your collaborative relationship has got legs then you will see this before the film ever gets into pre-production. Save your jaw dropping cinematic blockbuster for another time.
- Why collaborate? Lots of reasons. (a) Lack of proper funding. Unless you have a trust fund or can borrow from the bank of mum and dad, then you will probably need the help of others to make your films when you are starting out. This can be your friends or contacts that you have made in the industry, but what will really help you is seeking out people with the right skills to bring into your circle. This is where Facebook, Stage 32 and LinkedIn come in. By reaching out to like minded people and connecting you can pool your resources and skills – and this could lead to a much better film. (b) You can learn from others’ experiences. I was fortunate to have a professional crew working on my first short and it was an amazing learning opportunity. If you are lucky enough to get public funding, then most emerging film maker pots still require you to add a collaborative element to your work. It is their way of ensuring that you are just as committed to your project as they are.
- Other film makers liking your stuff on Facebook, Twitter etc. This is networking made super easy for you. Other film makers who like or comment on your work not only appreciate your work, but are also confident in their own abilities. These people do not see you as a threat or as competition; they are exploring their partnering options and see a potential business partnership in the future. I like and comment on people’s work all the time and it is because I genuinely like the work, and see someone I could potentially make a film with to take our careers to the next level. Other film makers who like, comment and share your work should definitely be at the top of your list of potential collaborators, especially if their work is of the same calibre and attracting a lot of attention at festivals.
- Don’t be the person who expects likes and praise without ‘sharing the love’ back. And I am not talking about asking your peers to post their IMDb profiles onto your page as ‘exposure’ to your fans. This only leads to Facebook ‘likes’ and has rarely leads to an offer of work or a collaboration. Make an effort. Look at what your film making peers are doing and show them some support too. This is how relationships are forged and great films are made. This is networking at its best (and the cheapest!) as (a) you already have someone interested in working with you, and (b) you get to expose your presence as a film maker with their audience too. Win Win! That is worth a lot more to your career than just one more like on a post or a page. Other film makers bring different perspectives, skills and experience in areas that you may not be too familiar with too so go and find out more about them!
- Don’t treat other film makers in your circle as ‘competition’ – in other words DON’T BE A HATER! Your target audience will be different for each film, and here is the shocker – your audience isn’t other film makers! It is the people who will watch or buy your films. Save the competitive feelings for the film festival circuit and start working with other film makers within your circle. Seeing other film makers as competition leads to you not liking, commenting or sharing their stuff in case it makes them look more popular than you; and here is another shocker - if you have gone down the route of treating them as competition then you already think their work is on a level or better than yours. This could be a missed opportunity to make a great film! From personal experience, there is nothing worse than reaching out to other film makers on social media, only to find that your professional networking overtures are not being reciprocated.
Who am I? I am a writer/producer of From the 3rd Story Productions Ltd who has written four short films and two features that successfully went on to get made. I have produced 11 films in total, including eight short films and three feature films. In the 2015/2016 year (starting at Cannes in May 2015) I have had 15 international film festival screenings of my work, including an official selection of ‘Mano a Mono’ at Carmarthen Bay Film Festival in May 2016 (a BAFTA Cymru qualifying festival), and ‘The Hunting of the Snark’ is being screened as part of the Toronto Film Week, which runs alongside the Toronto Film Festival in September. I have also picked up six awards at festivals in that time.